Meditation for Preterm Birth Prevention: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Udonthani, Thailand


  • Wanlapa Sriboonpimsuay Department of Epidemiology, Faculty of Public Health, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, 40002, Thailand.


meditation programme - preterm birth – prevention - randomized controlled trial



Preterm birth represents a major obstetric complication. This study aimed to assess the efficacy of a meditation programme in the prevention of preterm birth.


This study was a randomized controlled trial without blinding. The study was performed at Udonthani Hospital in Northeast Thailand. A total of 199 eligible participants were randomly assigned to a five-step mindfulness meditation programme (n=84) or a control group (n=115). The control group received routine prenatal care. The meditation and control group subjects did not differ on a wide variety of sociodemographic characteristics, or in terms obstetric history and prior meditation experience. The data were analyzed on an intention-to-treat basis after delivery, using less than 37 weeks as the criterion for a preterm birth. Other outcome variables included a subjective measure of symptoms of stress.


The preterm birth rate for the meditation group was significantly less than that for the control group (6.0% vs. 15.7%, p=0. 037). The stress scores reported by the meditation group markedly decreased over time (p<0.001), while the control group scores showed no change (p=0.375).


The results confirm and strengthen the findings of past research indicating that participation in a meditation programme can reduce symptoms of stress. Meditation appears to be a promising technique for reducing the incidence of preterm birth. Recommendations are made for future research in this area.


Dayan J, Creveuil C, Herlicoviez M, Herbel C, Baranger E, Savoye C, Thouin A. Role of anxiety and depression in the onset of spontaneous preterm labor. Am J Epidemiol. 2002;155:293-301.

Moutquin JM. Classification and heterogeneity of preterm birth. BJOG. 2003;110 Suppl 20:30-3.

Aragao VM, da Silva AA, de Aragao LF, Barbieri MA, Bettiol H, Coimbra LC, Ribeiro VS. Risk factors for preterm births in Sao Luis, Maranhao, Brazil. Cad Saude Publica. 2004;20:57-63.

Hogue CJ, Bremner JD. Stress model for research into preterm delivery among black women. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2005;192:S47-55.

Rini CK, Dunkel-Schetter C, Wadhwa PD, Sandman CA. Psychological adaptation and birth outcomes: the role of personal resources, stress, and sociocultural context in pregnancy. Health Psychol. 1999;18:333-45.

Orr ST, James SA, Blackmore Prince C. Maternal prenatal depressive symptoms and spontaneous preterm births among African-American women in Baltimore, Maryland. Am J Epidemiol. 2002;156:797-802.

Dole N, Savitz DA, Hertz-Picciotto I, Siega-Riz AM, McMahon MJ, Buekens P. Maternal stress and preterm birth. Am J Epidemiol. 2003;157:14-24.

Hobel CJ, Dunkel-Schetter C, Roesch SC, Castro LC, Arora CP. Maternal plasma corticotropin-releasing hormone associated with stress at 20 weeks' gestation in pregnancies ending in preterm delivery. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1999;180:S257-63.

Wadhwa PD, Porto M, Garite TJ, Chicz-DeMet A, Sandman CA. Maternal corticotropin-releasing hormone levels in the early third trimester predict length of gestation in human pregnancy. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1998;179:1079-85.

Lockwood CJ. Stress-associated preterm delivery: the role of corticotropin-releasing hormone. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1999;180:S264-6.

Gennaro S, Hennessy MD. Psychological and physiological stress: impact on preterm birth. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2003;32:668-75.

Eisenberg DM, Delbanco TL, Berkey CS, Kaptchuk TJ, Kupelnick B, Kuhl J, Chalmers TC. Cognitive behavioral techniques for hypertension: are they effective? Ann Intern Med. 1993;118:964-72.

Jain S, Shapiro SL, Swanick S, Roesch SC, Mills PJ, Bell I, Schwartz GE. A randomized controlled trial of mindfulness meditation versus relaxation training: effects on distress, positive states of mind, rumination, and distraction. Ann Behav Med. 2007;33:11-21.

Astin JA. Stress reduction through mindfulness meditation. Effects on psychological symptomatology, sense of control, and spiritual experiences. Psychother Psychosom. 1997;66:97-106.

Baer RA. Mindfulness training as a clinical intervention: a conceptual and empirical review. Clin Psychol Sci Prac. 2003;10:125-43.

Charutsilp S. The effect of insight meditation practice on level of anxiety. J Psychiatr Assoc Thailand. 2002;47:145-53.

Kabat-Zinn J, Massion AO, Kristeller J, Peterson LG, Fletcher KE, Pbert L, Lenderking WR, Santorelli SF. Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Am J Psychiatry. 1992;149:936-43.

Segal ZV, Bieling P, Young T, MacQueen G, Cooke R, Martin L, Bloch R, Levitan RD. Antidepressant monotherapy vs sequential pharmacotherapy and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or placebo, for relapse prophylaxis in recurrent depression. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010;67:1256-64.

Sephton SE, Salmon P, Weissbecker I, Ulmer C, Floyd A, Hoover K, Studts JL. Mindfulness meditation alleviates depressive symptoms in women with fibromyalgia: results of a randomized clinical trial. Arthritis Rheum. 2007;57:77-85.

Shapiro SL, Schwartz GE, Bonner G. Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on medical and premedical students. J Behav Med. 1998;21:581-99.

Speca M, Carlson LE, Goodey E, Angen M. A randomized, wait-list controlled clinical trial: the effect of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction program on mood and symptoms of stress in cancer outpatients. Psychosom Med. 2000;62:613-22.

Narendran S, Nagarathna R, Narendran V, Gunasheela S, Nagendra HR. Efficacy of yoga on pregnancy outcome. J Altern Complement Med. 2005;11:237-44.

Krisanaprakornkit T, Maneeganond S, Rongbudsri S. Effectiveness of Consciousness Transformation Program for Stress Management. J Psychiatr Assoc Thailand. 2001;46:13-24.

Department of Mental Health. Thai Mental Health Indicatored. Bangkok: Ministry of Public Health, Thailand, 1995.

Jha AP, Krompinger J, Baime MJ. Mindfulness training modifies subsystems of attention. Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2007;7:109-19.

Grossman P, Niemann L, Schmidt S, Walach H. Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits. A meta-analysis. J Psychosom Res. 2004;57:35-43.

Davis JM, Fleming MF, Bonus KA, Baker TB. A pilot study on mindfulness based stress reduction for smokers. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2007;7:2.

Bowen S, Witkiewitz K, Dillworth TM, Marlatt GA. The role of thought suppression in the relationship between mindfulness meditation and alcohol use. Addict Behav. 2007;32:2324-8.

Morone NE, Greco CM, Weiner DK. Mindfulness meditation for the treatment of chronic low back pain in older adults: a randomized controlled pilot study. Pain. 2008;134:310-9.

Kang EH, Park JE, Chung CS, Yu BH. Effect of biofeedback-assisted autogenic training on headache activity and mood states in Korean female migraine patients. J Korean Med Sci. 2009;24:936-40.

Carlson LE, Speca M, Patel KD, Goodey E. Mindfulness-based stress reduction in relation to quality of life, mood, symptoms of stress, and immune parameters in breast and prostate cancer outpatients. Psychosom Med. 2003;65:571-81.

Vieten C, Astin J. Effects of a mindfulness-based intervention during pregnancy on prenatal stress and mood: results of a pilot study. Arch Womens Ment Health. 2008;11:67-74.

Duncan LG, Bardacke N. Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting Education: Promoting Family Mindfulness During the Perinatal Period. J Child Fam Stud. 2010;19:190-202.




How to Cite

Sriboonpimsuay, W. (2011). Meditation for Preterm Birth Prevention: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Udonthani, Thailand. International Journal of Public Health Research, 1(1), 31–39. Retrieved from